The drive. The once dreaded now beloved drive to UCSF. Sometimes 50 minutes sometimes 3 hours (thanks Bay Area traffic). We make it frequently. Really frequently. Like enough that it had to go into the “re-frame” pile for things I needed to get my head right about. The need to make those drives wasn’t going away so my attitude against them had to. For a while Riley would just sleep, she’d sleep and Brene Brown’s southern drawl would quell my anxieties reminding me I could “brave this wilderness”. But then she stopped sleeping…she’d just sit and stare out the window, quiet…too quiet. “Watcha thinkin’ about kiddo?” “Nuthin.” BS. For those who know Riley she NEVER shuts up…like ever. Part of me tried to embrace the silence and convince myself that a moment of quiet was serving her but I couldn’t…I could feel it all…her silence matching mine…both pretending we were thinking about “nuthin” both knowing there’s no such thing. Not for us at least. We’re thinkers…over thinkers…my thoughts have thoughts and I’m pretty sure hers do too…and accents…I think her thoughts thoughts have accents. Anyway, the silence… it wasn’t working…
If she was going to be awake I had to come up with a way to fill the silence. Most people are probably wondering why I didn’t just turn on the radio…well here’s the thing…music doesn’t really do much to me in the soothing department. I can’t zone into like I can a book or podcast…no matter how high I crank the volume my thoughts are louder…the bass of my anxiety unmatched. And there is certainly not a single thing soothing about Kidz Bop. But I was at a loss. She didn’t wanna talk, I didn’t either. She wasn’t gunna sleep and someone had to drive. So…okay…here’s where pretend comes in. I’m a “fake it til you make it” connoisseur. “Ok self…pretend you like listening to music while driving.” No. Pretend you LOVE it. Pretend like you are on the AGT stage and that million is about to be YOURS. I threw on a top 40 pop station and got after the One Direction lyrics like a teenage girl in heat. Oh and there were dance moves. It was charades meets carpool karaoke meets full blown dance club up in that mint green Ford Escape. Riley first gave me a look like “Oh no…it happened…Mom lost it…she GONE.” but I kept going…the corners of her mouth started to turn up with the volume. Honestly…I was hating it…the “feel-goods” that people feel with music hadn’t hit me yet, anxiety was still winning but then came the laughter…and her laughter was all the encouragement I needed. It’s working. Keep going. I got nuttier…I sang louder…I’m pretty sure passerbys were actively dialing in to the CHP reporting the maniac bellowing down 280 North.
And then there were the cows. The only thing to interrupt my crooning was the cows. Anytime I’d spot a group of them off to the side I’d shout “MUCCCCHHHHHHOOSSSSSSS VAAAACCCCCCAAASSSS” (which loosely translates to a shit ton of cows in spanish) as loud as I possibly could. Riley erupted in laughter…I thought girl was going to combust. That part of it was my favorite…she found it hilarious and I found it therapeutic. I didn’t realize how much I needed to scream at the top of my lungs until I found a productive way to do so.
By the time we got to UCSF I was exhausted…I wore myself the hell out…no joke. My throat legit hurt and my voice was close to non existent (which Riley also found hilarious) but I wasn’t anxious, I wasn’t on edge…I was just there…with her. And she wasn’t anxious, she wasn’t on edge…she was just there…with me. We faked it…we made it.
Those drives…we’ll make them often and honestly I can’t wait…Harry Styles…I’m comin’ for ya.
ps…over-the-top adorable bow featured atop Miss Riley’s head courtesy of fellow Medical Mompreneur and dear friend Kelsie of Three Tiny Knots. Her daughter is battling Retinoblastoma and all proceeds of bow sales go towards her treatment. I photographed Harper receiving her new prosthetic eye just yesterday and I swear once I stop bawling at the beauty of the experience I’ll tell you all about it 🙂
Go help Harper kick cancers butt by purchasing today at http://www.threetinyknots.com…use the code “makers10” to receive a 10% discount!